College-wide Cultural Diversity and Inclusion Forum

The College-wide Cultural Diversity and Inclusion forum series is an expansion of the highly successful Western New York student survey project, coined the Buffalo Project, co-facilitated by Dr. Rhianna C. Rogers, associate professor at SUNY Empire State College. The mission of the Buffalo Project is to develop action-based diversity initiatives that focus on utilizing participant observations of culture to inform solution-making efforts in college and community environments. For 10 years, this project has developed programming to build community across the college and beyond, diversity forums is one such programmatic change adopted from the Buffalo Project to support inclusion on campus.

For information about the Buffalo Project and the prior College-wide Cultural Diversity and Inclusion forums, please see the following links:

Empire State College's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website has information on many policies and programs offered.

Upcoming Forums

Digital Discrimination

A discussion about ‘Digital Discrimination’ and the many promises and perils of algorithms, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how these platforms must be analyzed for bias against Blacks in marketing decisions affecting banking, real estate, health and auto financing.This interview format discussion will focus on discriminatory practices and biases in the marketplace fueled by AI.

Thursday, April 22 from noon to 1 pm (EST)

Honoring Dr. Jerome Williams

The 7th Annual SUNY Empire Diversity Forum will be a collaboration between Rutgers University and SUNY Empire. Earlier this term, the sudden passing of panelist Dr. Jerome Williams led Prof. Yla Eason and Dr. Rhianna C. Rogers to reframe this panel in honor of Dr. Williams' work. We thank you for joining us for this important conversation in honor of him.

Who was Dr. Jerome Williams?

Dr. Williams was a Distinguished Professor and the Prudential Chair in Business (Marketing Department), and Fellow of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (Management and Global Business Department) in the Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick (RBS). He formerly served as Rutgers-Newark Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor from 2015-2019. He was as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing. In 2014 he was inducted into the PhD Project Hall of Fame for his efforts in promoting greater faculty diversity in schools of business. Much of his work focused on Digital Discrimination, which is the focus of this panel. During his tenure, Dr. Williams has received three lifetime achievement career awards from professional organizations because of his long-term commitment to advertising ethics and social responsibility. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in Marketing, with a minor in Social Psychology. He also had an M.S. degree from Union College and a B.A. degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Guest Moderator - Professor Yla Eason (Rutgers University)

Professor Yla is an award-winning entrepreneur who is largely credited with pioneering the ethnic toy market at mass market stores. Aa an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at Rutgers University, her focus is Business Communications and Marketing.

She received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Fitchburg State University. She has earned numerous awards and honors for founding and growing to $5 million Olmec Toys, a multicultural toy company, including an honorary Ph.D. from Bloomfield College; The Business Enterprise Trust Award from President Bill Clinton in 1996. She was the former Director of Learning and Development for R/GA, a digital advertising agency and for the Center for Excellence in Advertising at Howard University. She previously was a Lecturer at the Business School at Medgar Evers College, City University of New York (CUNY), She also taught e-Commerce for CUNYs School of Professional Studies


  • Renée Cummings, Data Activist - School of Data Science, Criminologist, University of Virgina.
  • Dr. Kalinda Ukanwa, Assistant Professor of Marketing, USC Marshall School of Business, USC.
  • Mike King, Managing Director, iPullRank.

Panel Bios

Renée Cummings
Renée Cummings, Data Activist - School of Data Science, Criminologist, University of Virgina

Renée Cummings is a criminologist, criminal psychologist, therapeutic jurisprudence specialist, AI ethicist and the historic first Data Activist in Residence, at The School of Data Science, University of Virginia. Renée is also a community scholar at Columbia University. Advocating for AI we can trust, accountable, transparent, explainable, responsible and principled as well as more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, Renée is on the frontline of ethical AI, generating real time responses to many of the consequences of AI and the impacts of data on society. Renée specializes in AI risk management, algorithmic justice, AI policy and governance, and using AI to save lives. She is committed to using AI to empower and transform communities by helping governments and organizations navigate the AI landscape and develop future AI leaders. Renée works at the intersection of AI, criminal justice, racial justice, social justice, design justice, epidemiological and urban criminology. She is on the Board of Advisors of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. She’s a founding board member of the new Springer journal AI Ethics. She is also on the board of Women in Voice as well as on the board of Inspired Minds, producers of the World Summit AI. Renée lectures extensively on AI and Data Ethics and contributed significantly to the creation of the first Ethical Emerging Technologist certification. Many of her lectures are available on Coursera. Renée is committed to fusing AI with criminal justice for ethical real time solutions to improve law enforcement accountability and transparency, reduce violence, enhance public safety, public health, quality of life, community efficacy and community resilience. A thought-leader, motivational speaker, and mentor, Renée has mastered the art of creative storytelling and deconstructing complex topics into critical everyday conversations that inform and inspire.

Dr. Kalinda Ukanwa
Dr. Kalinda Ukanwa, Assistant Professor of Marketing, USC Marshall School of Business, USC.

Kalinda Ukanwa is Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Southern California. A quantitative modeler, Professor Ukanwa researches how algorithmic bias, algorithmic decision-making, and consumer reputations impact firms. She is the winner of the 2018 Eli Jones Promising Young Scholar Award and a finalist for the 2018 INFORMS Service Science Best Student Paper Award, 2019 Howard/AMA Doctoral Dissertation Award, and the 2020 AMS Mary Kay Doctoral Dissertation Award. In a prior life, Professor Ukanwa was an industrial engineer, financial analyst, and finance executive at Walt Disney, Citigroup, Viacom, and Kaplan.

Mike King
Mike King, Managing Director, iPullRank

The Founder and Managing Director of iPullRank, Michael King (aka @iPullRank on Twitter), has an extensive background in software, web development and a proclivity for creative solutions. That experience has afforded him a track record of successfully coordinating the efforts of Creative, Strategy, Technical and Paid Media Teams to achieve synergistic solutions in harmony with long-term client campaign goals for several Fortune 500 brands. Previously, Mr. King was the marketing director for iAcquire where he led growth initiatives and the transition from link building into content marketing initiatives including market research, content strategy, social strategy and on-page SEO. Prior to that he led the SEO campaigns of LG, Citi, Sanofi Pasteur, Cartier, and General Mills as the SEO lead at Publicis Modem. Publicis Modem was his second agency within the umbrella as he was member of the SEO team at Razorfish contributing to many wins for Ralph Lauren, Hawaiian Airlines, ABC, ADT, State Farm, and a number of Johnson & Johnson and Genentech brands.

Event Sponsor

Rutgers Business School Newark and New Brunswick

Videos from Previous Forums

6th Annual Diversity Forum (2019): How Creative Thinking Sets the Environment for Diversity and Innovation

By Ms. Karina Loera-Barcenas, SUNY Buffalo State Small Business Development Center Business Advisor


5th Annual Diversity Forum: Microaggressions in Everyday Life


4th Annual Diversity Forum: Visible and Invisible Disabilities


3rd Annual Diversity Forum: American Politics and Race


2nd Annual Diversity Forum: Cultural Inclusion and Diversity


1st Annual Diversity Forum: Race and Policing